Gopher women’s basketball team comes out of winter break stretch with 13-5 record

Minnesota has lost five of the last six games after starting the season 12-0.

Redshirt senior Kenisha Bell chases after the ball on Monday, Jan. 14 at Williams Arena. The Gophers lost to the Hawkeyes 81-63.

Elle Moulin

Redshirt senior Kenisha Bell chases after the ball on Monday, Jan. 14 at Williams Arena. The Gophers lost to the Hawkeyes 81-63.

by Babatunde Jinadu

The Minnesota women’s basketball team kept itself busy over winter break. While most University of Minnesota students had a break from classes between late December and early January, the Gophers had a total of eight games.

On Dec. 22, Minnesota wrapped up its non-conference season in a 91-71 home win over the Rhode Island Rams. 

Six days later, the Big Ten conference season opened up for the No. 12 Gophers, when they emphatically defeated the Wisconsin Badgers, 74-56.

The 12-0 record start to the season tied Lindsay Whalen with her former coach Pam Borton for the best start by a Gophers’ head coach in her first season. The only time a Gophers women’s basketball team started a season off with more wins was in the 2003-04 season, which was Whalen’s senior year as a player. According to a University spokesperson, the streak also earned a spot in the record books by tying for the third longest overall winning streak in program history.

A few days later, on New Year’s Eve, the Gophers saw their undefeated run come to an end, when they lost a road game to the Michigan Wolverines. Taiye Bello scored 24 points on 9-9 shooting, but the Gophers lost 76-60 in a game that was plagued with turnovers.

That change in momentum hung over the Gophers for about two weeks, as the team lost its next three games. 

First, on Jan. 6, the Gophers lost a close game at home to the Illinois Fighting Illini by a score of 66-62. The Fighting Illini outscored the Gophers 23-9 in the fourth quarter to secure their win. 

Three days after, on Jan. 9, No. 23 Michigan State beat No. 18 Minnesota by 20 points. This 86-68 road loss saw the Gophers fall to 12-3 on their season. 

Then, on the following Monday, the No. 22 Iowa Hawkeyes used a second half resurgence to best the No. 23 Gophers, 81-63.

Following these three losses at the start the new year, the Gophers spent the next three days regrouping before taking on the Wisconsin Badgers in a border-battle road contest. Minnesota outscored the Badgers in all four quarters of that Jan. 17 game, winning 78-50.

To end the winter break stretch, Minnesota faced the Nebraska Cornhuskers on the road on Sunday, Jan. 20. The Gophers led 27-26 at half time, and later 46-38 after the third quarter. Three different players scored in the double digits for Minnesota, led by senior Kenisha Bell’s 16 points; however the team effort was ultimately inadequate. Nebraska outscored Minnesota 25 to 11 during the final 10 minutes to steal the game. The 63-57 final score pushed Minnesota to a 13-5 record, where it currently stands on the season.

Minnesota’s next matchup is against Purdue at home on Thursday to take on the Boilermakers.